Expected responsibilities at firm? (<1yr out of school)


Hi there,

I completed my M.Arch last year and was fortunate enough to land a job with a firm that I'm currently employed with (less then 1yr later). I haven't done much of what I consider architecture work and thought I'd ask what's the norm 1st year employees should expect to do in a firm. I'm wondering if this varies my size/amount of work they have, etc. My firm is small (<10ppl)

What I mean by architecture is anything that qualifies as an IDP experience category. I've done <30hrs of CDs (cleaning up existing conditions). I've logged some SD and DD hours developing signage for a hospital. Nothing else really qualifies. No drawings. No buildings (besides the hospital signage) I've created marketing materials, helped their IT guy with server admin work and their website. That's about it. Is this unusual? I have a few years previous experience working with residential contractors (working a trade and creating CDs).

Apr 4, 13 7:56 pm

As someone just out of school and lucky to have a job, you shouldn't be nit picking.  There are thousands with MArch degrees unemployed. =P

Apr 4, 13 9:43 pm

You should expect to do more and continually prove that you can do more.

Apr 4, 13 10:19 pm

What you describe is completely within the normal range for your level.  Enjoy paid employment!

Apr 4, 13 11:33 pm

You have mentioned that your company's present total working personnel count is less than 10, which means to say it is a small architecture firm. Take this aspect in a positive way, small companies are places where you can learn lot many things within a short span of time. So, move on and try to explore your opportunities at your workplace. 

Apr 5, 13 1:03 am

First and foremost, you are working. Next thing (I was not too clear on, so I am assuming) is that I get the impression that in terms of totem pole, you are on one of the lower rungs. That means you will be the jack of all trades. Good thing you are not changing out the ammonia on the plotter or emptying out the toner container on the blueprint machine. Good times.

Times are tough, so have to imagine that unless you guys have a gold mine of work piling up to be done, it's a slow and steady pace. Principals want to make sure everyone's working on something that needs to be done. Sometimes they don't always get to make sure you are getting through your IDP. I recommend that you get a mentor, outside your office and work on some volunteer credits.

That will give the brain cells something to sink your creative teeth into. At work learn not only by action but also by absorbing from others. Ask questions, learn that way so that when you get to prove you can handle the 'bigger' things, you have a running start. It's easy to want to get certain aspects of IDP done in a certain way. We have all been there, but you have to also imagine that your billable time has to add up. If it doesn't, you might just join the peanut gallery.

Apr 5, 13 4:40 am

Your "expected responsibilities" are whatever you are given to do. Attack everything with gusto and enthusiasm.

Fresh M.Arch? Back in the day you'd be running the Diazo machine, getting coffee and running errands.

Apr 5, 13 10:32 am

Sometimes, that's what a 10 person firms look like. I used to have to weed the garden. 

Apr 5, 13 11:32 am


I was a little surprised by some of the recent answers. 

You should be working actively on assignments that will help you progress towards completing your IDP and your development as an architect. In my 1st job out of M.Arch school with no previous firm experience, 100% of my time was billable and applicable to IDP. By the end of my 1st year, I was solo drafting (with partner oversight) complete, small tenant improvement project CD sets. By the end of my second year, I was an active project team member on SD, DD and CD on larger urban projects and beginning to move past overall and enlarged plan/section/elevation DD and starting to take ownership over exterior wall assembly and roof details, albeit with oversight and checking in with senior architects. This was on top of massive presentation deadlines at the SD or design review board level.

Yes, my 1st firm was bigger than yours. But even within my firm there was a huge range between people's level of responsibility within the 0-3 year range of experience. Some people got stuck in the model shop building models and making lasercut files, others got placed directly onto project teams. The people who seemed fine with working in the model shop stayed in the model shop.

Congratulations on employment after graduation. A small firm is a wonderful opportunity not to take on less, but to take on more. I'm not sure how long you've been at your current employer, but take the initiative and ask for a 6 month review check-in or take control of your yearly review. Express positive enthusiasm for taking on more and everything a small firm can offer you. Yes, at small firms, everyone has to take out the garbage, make the coffee, etc...but there are such rich learning opportunities too.

Make it happen.

Apr 5, 13 12:16 pm

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